2018 Flight Disruption Benchmarks from Freebird

March 21, 2019

Freebird has published 2018 benchmarks to help companies better understand the impact of flight disruptions on travel programs. The data science team at Freebird analyzed over 225,000 domestic U.S. flights taken by business travelers at over 100 companies in 2018.

Executive Summary – Freebird research indicates a 5% overall flight disruption rate and details disruptions by type and cause. The average time saved was 4.1 hours per rebooking that resulted in over $1,500 total business impact per disruption.

>> Download full 2018 Disruption Benchmark Report

disruption benchmarks 2019

Disruption Benchmarks

Freebird reports a 5% flight disruption rate across all flights. Missed connections represent 48% of all flight disruptions, followed by 30% due to cancelled flights, and 22% due to delays over four hours. So while all three factors are drivers, travel programs that rely more heavily on connecting airports are likely to have even higher flight disruption rates.

The factors that cause disruptions are led by weather as the cause of 56% of flight disruptions. However, 26% were due to carrier factors like equipment, crew and scheduling, and 22% were due to airport factors like FAA, Air Traffic Control, security and safety. These findings confirm why disruptions happen all year long, not just during winter storms.

Rebooking Benchmarks

Looking at the rebookings that travelers choose when using Freebird, 67% of rebookings were selected on a new airline, as most travelers choose to rebook on an alternate airline as there are more options that can save their time. And for 19% of the Freebird rebookings, travelers even chose to change their originating or destination airport to help adapt to their new schedule.

The takeaway here is that when travelers are put in control of rebooking their own disrupted flights, their choices and preferences can change significantly.

Saving Benchmarks

Freebird was also able to report benchmarks for key time and fare savings metrics.

For time saved, 4.1 hours was the average difference between the original arrival time and rebooked arrival time. Assuming a conservative $150 value per traveling employee hour, that would be a value of $615 in terms of employee productivity.

For refunds from airlines from the original disrupted flights, Freebird reports a $303 average airline refund received by clients.

For rebooked airfares, Freebird pays for new airfares, so doesn’t report a client benchmark on that metric, but clients report that last-minute airfares were in the range of $500 to $1,000 per rebooking before Freebird.

Savings Opportunity

Based on these disruption benchmarks, a company can estimate the total business impact of a flight disruption, as follows:

$615 value of time savings per disruption

$303 airline refund from original flight

$500-$1,000 typical last-minute airfare rebooking (now paid by Freebird)

$1,418-$1,918 total business impact per disruption

Using a conservative $1,500 cost impact, for a company with $10M annual air spend, with 25,000 flights and 5% or 1,250 flight disruptions, the total business impact from flight disruptions would be $1.9M, nearly 20% of the air spend, a significant opportunity.

Beyond these benchmarks, there are also qualitative benefits of implementing traveler-facing technology like Freebird. In addition to savings, Freebird clients seek to improve the traveler experience, resulting in happier travelers, more productive workers, and to help retain valuable employees.

>> Download full 2018 Disruption Benchmark Report